Utility bills are an expensive fact of life. Depending on where you live, the average monthly utility costs in the United States range from $267 all the way to $520. That’s a lot of money to simply keep the lights on and the water running!
But you have a lot more control over these costs than you think you do. Even if you’re a renter and don’t have the option to replace your appliances with more energy-efficient versions, you can take action to save on your utility bills.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your usage and start saving.
Save on Your Electric Bill by Adjusting the Thermostat, Light Bulbs, and Appliances
Top-of-the-line Energy Star appliances are one way you can save money on your electricity bill, but they’re far from the only way!
To start, help your A/C unit out by changing your HVAC filters regularly. Most models recommend a new filter each month. Set a recurring alarm on your phone or calendar so you don’t forget.
Next, turn the temperature on your thermostat up a few degrees in summer so your A/C doesn’t have to work as hard. Just a small change in your home’s temperature can add up to significant savings. If it’s a little too warm, reach for the ceiling fan switch before you head back to the thermostat.
And if you’re going to be out of the house for a while, adjust the temperature accordingly. This applies whether you’re out of town for the weekend, or just at work all day. The house doesn’t need to be a cool 76°F if there’s no one there to enjoy it.
In your lamps and ceiling fixtures, replace the bulbs with high-efficiency LEDs. They last longer and use less electricity than their incandescent counterparts.
Finally, your television, Blu Ray player, gaming consoles, microwave, and even your phone charger are sipping electricity even when not in use. Plug your appliances into smart power strips that you can switch off through a phone app when you’re not actively using them.
Save on Your Gas Bill by Preserving Heat and Avoiding Waste
Depending on where you live, heating your home can be a major expense each winter. To keep more of that precious heat inside where you want it, check the seals on your doors and windows for drafts. If you feel cold air coming through, look for a draft-stopping product like an under-door sweep or foam strip that will help create a tighter seal.
You can also “shrink wrap” your windows with a temporary insulation kit that will prevent heat loss through the winter.
If your landlord will allow it, you may want to consider a smart thermostat that will keep your home temperature steady and can be adjusted on a schedule.
Last, consider turning down the temperature on your hot water heater. Many heaters are set to absolutely scalding hot, so they’re using gas or electricity to overheat your water. The EPA recommends keeping your water heater temp above 120°F. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a heating element inside, you may want to keep your heater closer to 140°F for disinfecting purposes.
Save on Your Internet Bill by Deal Shopping
Fortunately, we’re not charged for the internet by how much we use. (Could you imagine??)
So, to save on your internet bill, you’ll have to look for a better monthly rate. Check for deals with your local internet service providers to see who has sign-up offers or new client discounts. You can also call your current internet service provider and ask for a better rate. The worst they can do is say no.
Save on Your Water Bill by Fixing Leaks and Adjusting Your Habits
Water is one of our most precious resources, but it’s so easy to waste!
Check for leaks in your bathroom and kitchen and get them fixed ASAP. Many faucet leaks are actually simple fixes that you can work out with your buddy YouTube.
Once you’ve handled leaks, work on reducing your usage. Set a timer when you’re showering to make sure you’re keeping it quick. Just two extra minutes in the shower can waste over four gallons of water. You can also upgrade your showerhead to a higher-efficiency version. These are often simply screwed onto the existing fitting, making them an easy, reversible change for a renter to make.
Use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. Dishwashers use MUCH less water than hand washing. Low-flow toilets are efficient, but they’re an expensive upgrade. Instead, you can use a tank bag to displace the water in your tank and use less with each flush.
If you’re watering outdoor plants, water them early in the morning or in the evening so the water can soak in instead of evaporating from the surface. And plant native species whenever possible, so they’ll be less likely to need extra watering.
One More Tip…
In many cities, your trash pickup is based on the size of your cart, not how much actual trash you throw away. Can you reduce waste and downsize to a smaller, less expensive cart?
Individually, most of these changes won’t add up to big dollars. But as you incorporate more of them, and let the cost reduction add up over time, you could be saving real money! Plus, you’ll be consuming fewer of our planet’s finite resources. And that makes reducing use good for everyone.